American Journal of Bioethics 20 (6):44-47 (2020)

Alberto Molina Pérez
Instituto de Estudios Sociales Avanzados (IESA-CSIC)
David Rodríguez
Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Señora del Rosario
Requiring family authorization for apnea testing subtracts health professionals control over death determination, a procedure that has traditionally been considered a matter of clinical expertise alone. In this commentary, we first provide evidence showing that health professionals’ (HPs) disposition to act on death determination without family’s prior consent could be much lower than that referred to by Berkowitz and Garrett (2020). We hypothesize that HPs may have reservations about their own expertise as regards death, and may thus hesitate to impose their views on patients’ families. We then address the theoretical question of clinical expertise in death determination by distinguishing judgments about facts (e.g., the presence or absence of spontaneous breathing) from interpretations given of these facts (i.e., their meaning for the vital status of an individual). We argue that, while clinicians may claim some expert authority on the former, they hold no particular authority on the latter.
Keywords Death determination  Family consent  Facts and interpretations
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DOI 10.1080/15265161.2020.1754514
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References found in this work BETA

“Brain Death,” “Dead,” and Parental Denial.John J. Paris, Brian M. Cummings & M. Patrick Moore - 2014 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 23 (4):371-382.
Informed Consent for the Diagnosis of Brain Death: A Conceptual Argument.Osamu Muramoto - 2016 - Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 11:8.

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Citations of this work BETA

Brain Death Testing: Time for National Uniformity.Thaddeus Mason Pope - 2020 - American Journal of Bioethics 20 (6):1-3.

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